Today we bring you another retrospective post. Lucy Harries is a second year undergraduate at Cardiff University and, despite initial attempts to avoid digging, she found her way to Cosmeston where she learnt to love the excavation lifestyle:
So, it has now been a week since life at Cosmeston, and the majority of diggers have for the first time in a month experienced a week of luxury….warm comfy beds, hot baths etc. Before going to Cosmeston I genuinely thought I would hate every minute of it because having done post-excavation with GGAT for my placement last year, this was going to be my first experience of digging, something which I couldn’t picture myself doing and had deliberately set out to avoid last year. The camping aspect of the dig also worried me, not because of the comfort issue, but because I have an insatiable fear of bugs and insects of any kind (spiders especially!). However, after a month at Cosmeston I can honestly say that I have loved (almost) every minute of it and my one regret is not doing a dig last year.
So where to begin? Well the archaeology would be a good start…..
After the four weeks our trench looked rather awesome! We uncovered a number of interesting archaeological features, the most notable being the four adjoining walls to make an entire room which was later discovered to have been extended further north, the two phases of which could be clearly seen. Another few days in the trench might have allowed us to reveal the function of this room but unfortunately this time was not available to us.
An equally remarkable feature was the circular structure in the northeast corner of the trench. Despite the argument of whether this was a bake-house or a dovecot, the discovery of bird bones and the fact that it looked very similar to the dovecot in a nearby field inclines me to believe the dovecot interpretation. The discovery of a half-eaten bloomer loaf or a Welshcake might have persuaded me otherwise……
What was thought to be a huge potential ditch in the north of the trench, although baffling everyone to begin with, turned out to be a rubbish dump, created after the collapse of the manor house. Excavating this feature, which involved two full days of heavy mattocking, shovelling and trowelling, resulted in the removal of about 4 tonnes of soil. Despite this, these were possibly the best two days in the trench for me, not merely because the archaeology was straightforward to follow (reddish-brown rubble (2307) coming down onto a layer of grey-green clay (2327)) but also because of the company.
The first of these days was spent working with Diana and Liv, who provided copious amounts of entertainment with quotes from the film ‘Hot Fuzz’ (if you haven’t seen it please do…it’s AWESOME)! Such quotes included “A great big bushy beard”, “Crusty jugglers” and “Any luck catchin’ ‘em killers then” (for maximum effect, these must be quoted in the correct accent). On the second day Diana and I were joined by James who turned out to be equally amusing, increasingly taking note on those who were not pulling their weight in the trench much to our entertainment!
One of the most tedious days in the trench had to be the day spent in the northwest which essentially consisted of cleaning the clay robber cut, planning the clay robber cut and subsequently removing the clay robber cut. For this task I was joined by Madge who has already expressed his feelings on clay in a previous blog. May I add that it was not the company of this day which made it boring….Madge (and Tom alike) were responsible for much of the fun and laughter experienced on dig with their impressions and fantastic Chinese singing (cheers guys)!
On a different note, as someone who loves food I feel the need to mention it in my blog. Cooking for a 20+ archaeologists was a very difficult job but Amy did a fantastic job at overseeing the cooking and as a result of her hard work a bad meal was never made. However, despite being consistently well-fed, the lengthy frisbee and rugby playing sessions followed by drinks in the evening usually led to late-night munchies, and some of the most popular snacks were nuts, donuts and (as famously said by one of the students) a sh*tload of custard creams!
A final word to everyone on dig……you’ve all been fantastic, students and supervisors alike. Cheers for the awesome experience guys!
P.S. “It’s just the one killer actually!”